Just when Mitch Trubisky has those first-game jitters against a stingy Minnesota Vikings defense in the rear view mirror and is ready to settle in, here come the rookie-killer Baltimore Ravens.
Now, nobody is going to confuse this group with any of the great Ray Lewis-led defenses of the past, but under John Harbaugh, the Ravens have been hellacious on rookie quarterbacks, especially at home.
Since taking over the Ravens in 2008, Harbaugh has not lost to a rookie quarterback in nine tries during the regular season. He’s also 3-0 against rookies — T.J. Yates, Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick — in the playoffs.
The 1-4 Bears and Trubisky, making just his second start, face the Ravens at noon (FOX-Channel 32) on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
You can bet Trubisky is watching the horror film from Week 2 when Browns’ rookie DeShone Kizer had three picks, five sacks and no TDs in a 24-10 road loss to the Ravens. Kizer, who was also making his second NFL start, came out of the game with a migraine at one point and finished with a 3.7 quarterback rating.
The Ravens overall defense has been in the top third of the league most of the season, but they really seem to really dial in on the passing game. The Ravens (3-2) have allowed the fewest completions (87) in the NFL and are by far the league’s best in completion percentage allowed at 53.7 percent. By comparison, the Bears’ defense which has been a bright spot all season, allows a 64.2 completion rate.
And, while Harbaugh’s defenses usually make it tough on any quarterback, his Ravens teams have been absolutely dominant against rookie signal-callers.
In the nine home victories against rookies, the Ravens have allowed just three TD passes against 13 interceptions.
Andy Dalton in 2011 and Brandon Weeden in 2012 both threw for 300-plus yards in losses. Since then, only Blake Bortles has surpassed the 200-yard mark with 210 yards in 2014. Other rookies to feel the Ravens’ wrath: Geno Smith, Jets, 127 yards, O TD, 2 INT; Conor Shaw, Browns, 177, 0, 1; Zach Mettenberger, Titans, 179, 1, 1; Cody Kessler, Browns, 91, 1, 0; Carson Wentz, Eagles, 170, O, 1.
Before facing the Ravens in the 2013 playoffs, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was asked about Baltimore’s dominance against rookie quarterbacks. “Obviously, the Ravens defense has been great,” Luck said. So I’m sure any quarterback’s record against the Ravens isn’t so hot. I haven’t heard that [2-6] statistic. Obviously, I would hesitate to say that you worry about going up against a great defense like the Ravens, but you definitely have an incredibly healthy respect for what they do and how they can affect games and change the game so quickly. So, it’ll be tough for us.”
If there is a silver lining in all of this, four rookie quarterbacks have been able to defeat the Harbaugh-led Ravens. Robert Griffin III, EJ Manuel, A.J.McCarron and Dak Prescott have turned the trick at home. Except for McCarron, all are similar to Trubisky in that they have the ability to move the pocket and extend plays. So, there’s still hope.